The 2017 Super Rugby tournament kicks-off on Thursday 23 February with the Melbourne Rebels hosting the Auckland-based Blues at AAMI Park in Melbourne. With this news, the 2017 match schedule has been made public by SANZAAR.
The Thursday night kick-off is a first for Super Rugby and is followed a week later by another Thursday night match, between Western Force and the Queensland Reds in Perth at nib Stadium.
The defending Champions, the Wellington-based Hurricanes will start off their title defence in Tokyo against the Sunwolves. 2016 Australian conference winners the ACT-based Brumbies will play the Canterbury-based Crusaders in Christchurch.
The two South African Conference winners in 2016, the Johannesburg-based Lions and Western Cape-based Stormers, will play the Free State-based Cheetahs and Pretoria-based Bulls respectively.
Key points of Super Rugby 2017:
- Rebels v Blues to get season underway, Thursday 23 February
- Defending champion Hurricanes start defence away to Sunwolves, in Tokyo
- Three full rounds to begin the season [prior to first BYE round]
- 135 regular season matches and eight-team/seven match finals series
- Draw schedule accounts for British & Irish Lions NZ tour in June
- Finals series commences 21 July with Final set for 5 August
The 17-round regular season and the finals series produced a final in 2016, between the two best teams in the tournament; the Hurricanes and Lions.
The Hurricanes were the fourth new champion in the last five years of Super Rugby thereby securing a clean sweep of all five New Zealand franchise teams (having won the Super Rugby competition since its inception). Again highlighting the competitiveness of the tournament.
The 2017 June Test window and in particular, the British & Irish Lions series in New Zealand, has an impact on the match schedule. Fixtures in early June and July have therefore been scheduled around the various fixtures, including matches between the Lions and all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
SUPER RUGBY: 2017 Match Schedule Released
Click here to download 2017 Super Rugby match schedule
SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos, stated, “The new season is set to be another enthralling, action-packed one as we enter the second year of the 18-team conference-style tournament.
“The tournament saw some fantastic rugby last year and we look forward in particular to the continued development of the new franchises that added exciting new territories and colour to the tournament.
“The schedule will see four Sunwolves matches played in Tokyo and three matches in Singapore, while eight matches will be hosted by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Both these teams made their Super Rugby debuts in 2016, with the Kings from South Africa returning after their brief spell in 2013.
“We enjoyed a global audience of just over 50 million viewers for the 20th edition of Super Rugby with just over 2 million fans attending the matches. I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans and supporters for their support through 2016 and look forward to having our competition entertain and entice you through 2017,” added Marinos.
SUPER RUGBY: 2017 Match Schedule